Most of us don’t think too hard about what we post online. Despite whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and revelations on the scale of PRISM, the majority of people go about their daily business online not thinking too much about who is watching. Notoriously Yours, written and directed by Van Badham, seeks to demonstrate the true insidiousness our blind acceptance of this constant surveillance.
The writing is slick, frequently funny and often beautiful.
An unnamed woman (Her), has a random sexual encounter with a man (Him). The set-up over Tinder takes less than 20 minutes and the ‘relationship’ is over before the next morning. However, ‘Her’ soon finds herself in an interrogation room, being grilled by spies. Her random hook-up was an Edward Snowden-type whistleblower who is on the run from the government and she is now potentially in a lot of trouble. The spies use this one-night stand to manipulate her into travelling to Singapore and spying on some old friends of her Croatian war-criminal father.
This fast-paced and fun spy thriller is well-acted by the small ensemble cast. The writing is slick, frequently funny and often beautiful. The central character of ‘Her’ is a particularly wonderful creation – sassy, intelligent, strong and sexually confident, she is a female character we don’t often see onstage, wonderfully brought to life by Claire Glenn. Mobile phones are a constant accessory onstage, as they are in life, used to light faces, record voices and project scenes onto the large screen behind the cast.
The play is deliberately created with a message in mind, projected across the screen at the end of the show: ‘There is no end until there is no surveillance state.’ Whilst the story was well-told and enjoyable, the narrative did not seem to match this polemical message. Yes, ‘Her’ was manipulated into some dreadful things through the use of her sexual history, but the thriller style of the piece meant that the awfulness of this situation never really hits home – we’ve seen similar things (and worse) in countless Hollywood movies.
Notoriously Yours is, however, a highly enjoyable and compelling new work by a playwright determined to make us think about our contemporary world, the way it is run and whether or not we will continue to blindly accept it the way that it is.